HOW TO ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
I’m not a huge fan of Natalie Portman. Actually, I’m not much of a fan at all. I’ve tried to like her, but I’ve never been able to get past the lowercase acting. I know I’m going against the grain here, but guess what: This is my opinion, and I have a right to it.
What does this have to do with writing?
If you’ve written a book or two, and you’ve finally gotten it published, and you’ve managed to get a few reviews, sooner or later the 1-star reviews will trickle in. The question is: What are you going to do about it?
I’ve made up my mind that I refuse to read anything less than a 4-star review. Why? Because reviews that aren’t 4-stars don’t change my writing in any way. They only tell me what I should’ve done right, or what what was missing from my story. Am I going to go back and rewrite it? Nope. And guess what, if I decided to do a rewrite, then someone else would have something bad to say about the new rendition.
Here’s my advice to you if you’ve gotten a bad review or two. Don’t pay it any mind. Is it like a magnet, drawing your eyes to it no matter how many good reviews you have? Yup! But, you have to resist. It does nothing for your writing, and it does nothing for your self-esteem.
He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit to be a writer. When you’re pushing your way forward in this career, you can’t keep glancing back at all of the mistakes you’ve made, wishing that you’d done something differently here and there. Just like any other job, in writing you will make mistakes. There will be plot twists that you wish you would have explored, characters you wished you would have killed, or characters you wished would have lived. You can’t do that to yourself. It’s the first step to writer’s suicide. This is a long race, not a 100-m dash. The more words you get down, the more confident you’ll become.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. But you have to promise not to tell anyone. *tapping foot, waiting for you to promise*
Whenever I get a bad review, you know what I do? I don’t read it, not anymore. I go to the best-selling authors like George R.R. Martin or Stephen King or JA Konrath or JD Robb or whomever, and I read their one and two-star reviews.
Why? Because it reminds me that even the best have their critics. Believe it or not, not everyone fell in love with Katnis Everdeen. Frodo is not everyone’s favorite hero.
That does wonders for my esteem as a writer. Not that I enjoy the misery of 1-stars against someone else. But it reminds me that even the best have their mudslingers. I just love the 1-star reviews that start off like this: “I don’t usually write reviews but…”
Those are the worst, in my opinion, because it says that this 1-star reviewer took time out of her busy schedule just to let the world know how much she hated said book.
So, to sum it all up: keep writing. I’ve seen books with an average rating of 3.2 stars getting sales. And how do I know that? Their sales rankings for these books were higher than 10k, and they had over 200 reviews! Isn’t that crazy! These are — judging by the ratings — average books that people continue to buy.
Final words. Do not let reviews stop you from writing!